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‘Small Island States Do Not Lack Ambition, They Lack Finance’, Secretary-General Tells Alliance, Calling for Developed Countries to Fulfil Climate Action Support

Following is the text of UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ video message to the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), today:

My visits to small island States in the Caribbean and the Pacific have had an enormous impact on me and my ideas on the role of multilateral institutions.

I have seen some of the most beautiful places on Earth, but I have also seen the enormity of the threat you face from climate chaos — a threat that is existential.  And I have witnessed the leadership, resilience and unity you bring to the table.

Today, your countries are at the centre of a storm of global problems you have done almost nothing to create:  the continued, brutal economic impacts of the pandemic, soaring food and fuel prices, crippling debts and the climate crisis, accelerating with a deadly force that can wipe out homes and livelihoods in moments.

It is little wonder you are struggling to invest in climate action and the Sustainable Development Goals.  That means livelihoods being lost, communities without health care, and young people left to wonder whether the place they call home can survive.

We need global action to end these crises.  First, on climate justice:  we need AOSIS to continue its climate advocacy.  To keep using your moral authority to push the G7 and the G20 to slash emissions and limit the rise in global temperature to 1.5°C.

Small island States do not lack ambition, they lack finance. Developed countries must deliver, honouring the promise of $100 billion a year, replenishing the Green Climate Fund, and delivering a road map to double adaptation finance by 2025.

At COP28 [twenty-eighth Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change], all parties must operationalize the Loss and Damage Fund, which you have done so much to champion.  And every person on earth must be protected by an early warning system by 2027. I thank all of you involved in the Early Warning Systems for All Initiative.

Second, action on financial justice.  I am calling for fundamental reform of our outdated and unfair global financial architecture.  And I have proposed an SDG Stimulus to increase resources for sustainable development and provide effective debt relief.

Loan agreements must include disaster clauses.  And we must remove the barriers that prevent some small island States from accessing affordable finance.

Most small island States are middle-income countries.  We need to move past a system that allocates concessional finance depending on national income, to one that considers vulnerability and resilience.  The work of the High-Level Panel of the Multi-Dimensional Vulnerability Index is vital.  And I hope there will be political consensus on the way forward.

Next year’s Conference on Small Island Developing States in Antigua and Barbuda, will be an opportunity to bring the international community together around the challenges you face.  With global action for climate justice and financial justice, we can create the change you need.  The United Nations is with you, every step of the way.

For information media. Not an official record.